Midcentury Design Transforms Into a Modern Glass House

Expansive glass and a new floor plan celebrate openness and connection to nature


The owners of this midcentury modern house in the Valley liked the casual nature of the original 1952 design, but they wanted a stronger connection to the landscape. Jeff Jordan Architects opened both the floor plan and exterior, giving the clients a simpler, pared-down version, with expansive glass walls and views that recall Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and other modern glass houses. 

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RELATED: Must-Know Modern Homes: The Glass House

Houzz at a Glance
Location: Newburgh, New York
Size: 2,200 square feet

The Hillcrest House has basically a U-shape plan, with the master suite and garage occupying one leg each, and the open living area found at the base. The latter is where architect Jeff Jordan really opened up the house, as can be seen here in the east-facing living room. This view also shows how the exterior cedar siding is continued inside to unite the inside and outside; we’ll see more of that later.

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ALL Photography by Gross & Daley Photography,  original photos on Houzz

BEFORE: Windows in the original were relatively large, but their articulation and the adjacent materials on the back exterior walls left much to be desired. (Cedar siding elsewhere was kept and became a strong part of the renovation’s design.)

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AFTER: Moving from the living spaces to the outdoors now occurs via sliding glass doors set into the larger windows, rather than by a swinging door, as seen in the previous photo. From here, we’ll step inside the door in the foreground to look at the living room.

With cedar siding continued to parts of the interior, the living room starts to take on the character of an outdoor space—it has open views to the east and exterior-like wood on the west, wrapping around the fireplace on the north.

The opening up of the facade didn’t involve just large panes of glass. It also included removing the wall between the living room and dining room at the exterior wall and partially exposing the structure above the ceiling. This created an open zone a few feet deep at the exterior wall.

BEFORE: The space in the living room didn’t flow around the fireplace on both sides.

AFTER: Here’s a view from the dining room back to the living room. Note the shades that are unobtrusively tucked at the top of the window. With so much glass, shading is very important.

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RELATED: Kitchen Islands and Carts

Jordan enlarged the kitchen slightly and changed it from a galley to an L shape with island, allowing it to be more open with the living area.

BEFORE: The previous galley kitchen provided access to the laundry area beyond, but shrinking the laundry room and moving its door to the side by the dining room allowed the kitchen to function better, while making it more open. 

The laundry room also functioned as a mudroom with access from the garage, so Jordan reconfigured part of the garage to provide direct access to the living area. Normally this wouldn’t be desirable, but the owners are car collectors, and the large garage allows them to put them on display.

AFTER: Here is a view from the dining room into the laundry. The simple palette of cedar walls and white epoxy floors continues into the utility areas as white walls and cabinets. The contrast with the wood makes these spaces appear even brighter.

If there is one spot where there are the proverbial “eyes on the street” (or more like on the front yard, given the Hudson Valley location), it’s the kitchen and its window over the sink. The front door can be glimpsed on the left edge of the photo.

BEFORE: It’s easy to see how the new design opened up the connection between the living room and the kitchen, bringing in additional light from the kitchen window over the sink. Before, the range hood and cabinets on the side (not to mention the dark finishes) cut down on the openness and light.

Here is a view of the dining room, looking toward the kitchen. The back of the fireplace is covered in wood, rather than the brick that faces the living room.

This last view of the house—the dining room, 180 degrees from the previous photo—accentuates the continuity between the inside and outside via the cedar siding; it’s as if the exterior wall continues inside the house. Technically that’s not the case, but aesthetically, it exhibits that sense.

Also note the door with matching wood siding, a nice detail that allows the dining room to have some continuity even as it provides access to a bedroom (the door here) and the laundry room, which has a similar door.

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